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Capital, Vol. 2 by Karl Marx

By Karl Marx

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3 This intertwining, conceived as a movement of commodities and of money, enabled Marx to work out at least the essential elements, if not the definitive form of a coherent theory of the trade cycle, based upon the inevitability of periodic disequilibrium between supply and demand under the capitalist mode of production. To forget this role of Volume 2 and jump to Volume 3 carries the danger of evacuating all problems specific to the inner contradictions of the commodity – problems of the market, of the realization of value and surplus-value, etc.

The commodity, non-barter nature of the reproduction schemas further implies a dual flow between the two departments. When department I sells raw materials and equipment to department II (to replace the value of IIc used up in the previous production cycle), commodities flow from department I to department II, while money flows from department II to department I. It has to be determined where that money initially came from. Conversely, when department II sells consumer goods to the workers of department I, to enable them to reproduce their labour-power, commodities flow from II to I, while money flows from I to II.

None of these assumptions can be scientifically proven or justified. Indeed, their apologetic function – as a straightforward rationalization of existing practice in the USSR and the ‘Peoples’ Democracies’ – is obvious to any critical observer. 32 Rosa Luxemburg well understood that the form of the reproduction schemas applies only to capitalist commodity and value production, and that the laws of motion corresponding to that form can have no validity in non-capitalist societies. 33 If a socially appropriated surplus product is substituted for surplus-value, then the equilibrium formula takes on a new form which expresses the different social goal of reproduction, corresponding to the changed social structure.

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